I am a big fan of Olen Steinhauer, and I really wanted to like this book. In the end, unfortunately I didn't. I don't think this is Steinhauer's best work. Actually, calling it an 'airport thriller' is spot on, because the one feature of life as a CIA hitman/woman or 'tourist' (I did like that joke) is that you are always travelling. So the main character Milo Weaver spends a lot of time going through airports, hotels, departure lounges, railway stations etc - always on the move but never in one place for very long.
I came to Steinhauer's work through his series of spy novels on his unnamed East European country; Bridge Of Sighs
, The Confession
, Liberation Movements
, Victory Square
and 36, Boulevard Yalta
or The Vienna Assignment
(as published in the UK). All of these are wonderfully-nuanced books and the best of them are right up there with Le Carre and others. Bruno Sev has to be one of the best characters in spy fiction.
But the Milo Weaver series (of which this is number 2) is written as a much more commercial Lee Childs/'Bourne Ultimatum' type thriller. Which is okay as far as it goes - and every writer wants to sell books - but Steinhauer is capable of so much more.
For me there were several problems with the book:
I did not find Weaver that likeable as a character, nor his CIA acolytes; the story itself was not really engaging enough; and the last 100 or so pages of the book did not work in terms of plotting. I suspect I'd have been prepared to overlook the book's end if I'd warmed to the main character - but I didn't.
There was none of the nuanced writing Steinhauer has so well displayed in his earlier writings. It could be that because as he was writing his equivalent of 'Bourne'-type book, he felt that this wasn't the market he needed to appeal to. Which is fine. I'd be very happy for him to make a mint from the film rights to this series - but for me because of this overall lack of depth the book was disappointing. Sorry Olen.